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Memphis Daily News
Le Bonheur 101 Proof That Life Lessons Abound
May 15, 2014
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Learning does not cease when you graduate, at any level. Learning is a lifelong journey.

As author George Whitman once said, “The entire world is my school, and all humanity is my teacher.” I thought about that quote when I received an invitation to participate in Le Bonheur 101. I was not sure what I would learn about a hospital that I didn’t already know. I have spent more than my share of time inside hospitals as a patient and as a visitor when friends or family members were ill, and I have many friends in the medical profession who work in hospitals. However, the 101 part intrigued me. It sounded like school. So, for the sake of furthering my education, I accepted the invitation, and showed up on the assigned day ready to learn and gain a new perspective.

The invitation specified wearing comfortable shoes and clothes, very good advice when “making rounds,” donning surgical scrubs or just walking most of the day. I knew that Le Bonheur was named Best Children’s Hospital by US News & World Report last year, and now, I learned why. It’s all about hope. Parents hope to see their children grow up, be strong and healthy, able to be productive citizens, leaders in the community and have a chance to live their dreams. But what happens when a child’s future, and his childhood, may be taken away due to an illness, or catastrophic medical event? It is the answer to that question that I learned while participating in Le Bonheur 101.

I learned that asthma is the No. 1 diagnosis for children at Le Bonheur; that one in 120 children is born with a congenital heart defect, and that stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in children. I learned that children in our region are disadvantaged by many chronic conditions and health disparities. I visited the Emergency Department, where more than 80,000 children are treated each year. I saw surgeries in progress for correcting and repairing congenital heart defects and cardiac diseases. I spoke with Le Bonheur’s nationally known Research Department about its epilepsy intervention and pediatric brain tumor surgery. I learned about the hospital’s commitment to wellness education and to finding solutions that will give hope to all children. I saw some of the more than 700 pediatric medical staff and hospital support staff as they went about their duties with competence, care, and compassion.

A children’s hospital is a lot like a school. The adults are in charge, but it’s all about the children. At Le Bonheur, the children are treated in ways that help them heal faster. Care is centered on the developmental and psychosocial needs of each child. Thank you, Meri Armour, president of Le Bonheur, and all the staff at the hospital for the work you do, and this amazing gift of hope for Memphis, and for children everywhere. You promised a visit I would not forget, and you were correct. Le Bonheur is an unforgettable place. Lesson learned.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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